Love in the time of cholera? No, shockwaves in the time of COVID (thoughts and ramblings, March 2023 edition of my not-a-newsletter newsletter)

Happy Spring? We’re official through a third of 2023, the year of the New Normal, as I wrote about last time. I want to take the time to go over the shockwaves we’ve been experiencing as a result of the pandemic, as well as talk about what’s hot and what’s not, etc.

Shockwaves: COVID shook the world like an earthquake. And just like an earthquake, there were shockwaves that followed. One of those big waves was the economic shutdown followed by recovery. We have had shockwaves in the supply chains, but those seem to have recovered. Then we had high inflation. The shockwave from that has been taking some time to settle down. I suspect it will, but not yet.

The latest shockwave hit the banking business, with banks around the world suffering the shock brought on by high inflation and higher interest rates that has led some of them to collapse. It’s been shocking to watch and hard to figure out. One thing that helped me understand it better was this podcast with ezra klein and noah smith (there’s also a transcript for people like me who don’t listen to podcasts. :))  This has been an expensive shockwave, as these bank failures led to big wipeouts and the most vulnerable US banks losing 1 trillion in deposits. Needless to say, this led lots of people worrying about their own banks, including people I knew. Among other things, I was referring them to this list: bank report of most exposed to uninsured deposits.

One weird thing I learned from all this is that banks fail often in the US. Check out this failed bank list to see what I mean. It’s so common, everyone knows what happens, and the FDIC even have a playbook on how to take over a bank. For more on this, see this on why the FDIC and the Treasury Department shut down Signature bank. Stratechery has a good analysis on the the death of silicon valley bank (SVB).

Credit Suisse is another bank that went under. For those interested on that story, see: credit suisse unavoidably messy bank failure. This, on coco bonds at credit suisse banks was educational.

One thing to note: while it was bad these banks failed, it was not the banks most people worry about failing. Those banks, the Global Systemically Important Banks (G-SIBs) are here.

Crypto: Other things that have been collapsing: the crypto industry. There’s still embers there (see Binance), but it looks like winter is coming for crypto. It’s very not hot. More and more it looks like key players like Sam Bankman Fried are going to be going to jail for a long time (You can read about effective altruism and his relationship to it, here.) NFT also continue to decline. The big companies are bailing, like Facebook, who is calling it quits on its digital collectibles.

And people are not happy about it all. To get a sense, read about Ontario’s so called crypto king who was kidnapped and tortured. Bad.

One particular man has been at the center of all this badness: Peter Thiel. His fund wound down 8-year bitcoin bet before market crash. And he sparked the bank run at SVB. What a … guy.

Work: aftershocks have also been felt at at work. There are lots of tech layoffs, but workers still have a lot of power. Elsewhere Korea is experimenting with a four day workweek. (It’s explained here.) I think we will see more reactions to the impact of COVID as the months continue.

AI: If crypto is cold, AI is hot, and all the attention, money, and skill has shifted over to that. Indeed, some of the people I follow on twitter who were noted crypto critics have now become AI critics. That’s Twitter for ya!

I’ve been writing about AI on separate blog posts, since there is much to talk about. I wonder if it will be still hot, March 2024?

Elsewhere this month, the war continues in Ukraine. Sadly. There is the US presidential race shaping up. Unless either man dies, I think it will be a BidenTrump rematch. China is making moves, but the daily news concerning it has dropped at least in March. The Oscars occurred. It was fine. Ted Lasso is back! It’s great.

I had more stuff to say, but I think I’ve rambled enough. Just remember, the pandemic is not over, even though it may seem that way. New variants have occurred. Hospitals are managing. People are getting vaccinated AND sick. It’s a tough time still.

However a weird nostalgic sprung up around the early lockdowns. I saw it pieces like this, maybe zoom parties werent so bad, and this, 3 years since Ontario declared state of emergency pandemic. I confess I have had such feelings myself.

I don’t want to feel too nostalgic, though. This link to a chart of confirmed death due to COVID is a sobering reminder of all that was lost. Not to mention people alive but suffering from long Covid. The knowns — and known unknowns — of long Covid, are explained here .

Still, we march on. Even though this grim winter, where people of Ontario just lived through its darkest winter in 73 years. And despite the gray and the snow this week, spring-like temperatures and sunshine is on the way.

Here’s to longer days, warmer days, and happier days. See you in a month.



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